Sunday, June 15, 2014

Algiers/Canal St. ferry to expand weekday hours

 (This rewrite corrects the date new weekday service hours go into effect on the Algiers Point/Canal Street passenger ferry.)

     Passenger ferry service across the Mississippi River connecting Canal St., downtown New Orleans, to Algiers Point will expand weekday service in July.  The announcement was made in a press release posted on, a website of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
       The ferries are managed by Veolia Transportation Services, a French company hired by the RTA to manage the city's buses and streetcars.
       Beginning Monday, July 21, 2014, ferries will run weekdays from 6 am until 10 pm.  Saturday/Sunday schedules were not changed.  Fares remain at $2 each way.  Check for exact departure times.
       The Algiers Point/Canal St. ferry does not take cars but does accept bicycles and small motor scooters.  (If you have a motor scooter check the long list of rules before attempting to board the ferry with your scooter.)  The Chalmette ferry downstream accepts cars and larger motorcycles.
      Other changes and proposed changes are:
      - beginning July 1, monthly, ferry-only, passes will be sold for $65. These are good for unlimited rides in the month they are punched.
      -Drop boxes will be installed to allow passengers to pay fares without employees having to take cash.  Fares must still be paid in cash and no change is given.  Later in the year passengers may be able to use automated fare cards.
       - In September fares will be integrated with bus and streetcar service.  Now, transfers bought on a streetcar or bus are not valid for the passenger ferry.
       -A passenger ferry from Washington could be transferred to the ferry fleet in New Orleans pending approval by the Maritime Administration, a federal agency.
         Cyclists have the option of using RTA buses to cross the river via the Crescent City Connection bridge but the trip takes much longer than the ferry crossing and the bus schedule does not offer many trips.  Bicycle riding is not permitted on the Crescent City Connection.
       The changes were announced June 12 at a meeting of the Algiers Point Association.  The group has been fighting the deep cuts in the ferry schedule taken last summer after tolls on the bridge, a major subsidy for the ferry, were eliminated.  The ferries had been run by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development before being taken over by the RTA.
        Currently, the last ferry boats leave Canal St. for Algiers at 6:30 pm (8:00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights).  This is too early for service workers without cars living in Algiers to return from their late shifts in French Quarter bars, restaurants and hotels, via the ferry, forcing them to either endure a lengthy bus ride or pay for taxi service.
        Business at some bars, restaurants and bed and breakfast inns in Old Algiers has also been hurt.  The ferry, which used to run until midnight, eliminated the necessity to drive across the bridge after a night out on the town.  Especially popular with out-of-town visitors staying in Algiers was the chance to walk to and from the French Quarter without the hassle of crossing the bridge and finding a place to park in the crowded and world-famous New Orleans entertainment district. 
       Bicyclists ride the ferry to the West Bank to explore the historic neighborhood of Algiers Point.